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Kejriwal defends dharna, slams media over 'negative stories on AAP'

Last updated on: January 25, 2014 21:58 IST

Defending his two-day dharna in the heart of the capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday asserted that he had done nothing unconstitutional.

In an address on the eve of the Republic Day, he strongly rebutted criticism against him for staging the dharna and said the Constitution does not prevent the chief minister from participating in a protest for people's cause.

"I read the Constitution but couldn't find anywhere that a chief minister cannot hold a dharna. I staged a sit-in to raise the issue of women's security. The authorities clamped Section 144 of the CrPC after learning of my plan. It made me think how can the chief minister of Delhi became a security threat."

Kejriwal's role in leading the protest while holding a constitutional office has come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court which on Friday slammed law enforcing agencies for allowing unlawful assembly of supporters of the chief minister in the heart of the national capital.

"What was the need of imposing Section 144? Many people told me that we did an unconstitutional thing. I did not go against the Constitution," he said.

He also claimed that "the media was aligned with one party or the other and was doing negative stories on the Aam Aadmi Party".

Kejriwal and his six ministers had sat in the dharna to demand action against five police officials in three separate cases. He ended his dharna after Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung sent two policemen on leave pending inquiry.

"I think if I had taken a bungalow, a big car and huge security paraphernalia and then called a senior police officer and asked him to get me Rs 10 lakh from each police station per month, then everything would have been alright. Everyone would have said what a good CM I am," he said.

Resolving to continue the fight for the security of women in the city, he said his government would not "sit silently" on the important issue.

"The security of women is highly compromised. It is of utmost importance to us. The government has formed a committee under the chief secretary to set up a 'Women Security Force' in the city," he said.

"Last year, 1,600 women were raped. Did they get their right to life? Ask any woman, any parent. They are afraid and worried whether they will reach home properly. Today, every woman feels insecure," he said.

Kejriwal said the force will provide security to women and will have retired army personnel, police and home guards as its members.

Kejriwal said the committee will make provisions to ensure that rapists are sent to jail within three to six months of the crime.

In his address at the function at the Chatrasal Stadium, the chief minister also vowed to take all possible steps to make Delhi the first "corruption-free" city in the country.

"It is our dream to make Delhi the first corruption free city of India. If good people with honest intentions come together then it is possible to make India corruption free," Kejriwal said.

Identifying corruption as a major challenge facing his government, he claimed certain steps taken by his administration -- like setting up an anti-corruption helpline -- have helped contain graft to a certain extent.

"While coming here, my car stopped at a traffic signal. Many people surrounded it. Many of them were auto rickshaw drivers and they told me policemen have stopped asking for money for the last 15 days. This is not a small thing," he said.

Kejriwal said there were many "good people" in the police force and for the first time, a policeman's family has been given Rs 1 crore for giving up his life in the line of duty.

Kejriwal on Saturday handed over a cheque of Rs one crore to the widow of constable Vinod Kumar, who was killed during a raid on the suspected liquor mafia in south Delhi's Ghitorni area in December.

"This government will give medals to good officers, appreciate them and give them cash prizes. At the same time, strict action will be taken against those who are not doing their job properly," he said.

On the Jan Lokpal Bill, he said it was almost ready and will be taken up by the assembly in February. He said a special session of the Delhi assembly will be called at the Ramlila Ground to pass the bill.

"Under Jan Lokpal, corrupt people will lose their jobs and will be sent to jail. Moreover, their property will be seized. I would pray to god that not a single person is sent to jail under this law. Our motive is not to send people to jail, but to create fear in the mind of the corrupt -- that if they indulge in any wrongdoing they would not be spared," he said.

Kejriwal said the AAP government's aim is to give power to the people, which was the "dream" of Dalit leader B R Ambedkar.

"Ambedkar's dream was that people should become the king. But in the last 65 years, politicians have become kings and made people their servants. We have come here to reverse the situation," he said.

He also said that his government will soon bring the Swaraj Bill whose draft will be ready in the next 15 days.

"Under it we will form mohalla sabhas. We will conduct election for the chairman of mohalla sabhas and people of that area will decide where the government funds should be spent," he said.

Image: Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal addresses supporters during his dharna near Rail Bhawan earlier this week

Photograph: Anindito Mukherjee/Reuters

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